ALAN FORMBY JACKSON AND FAMILY ENJOY A FIRST-CLASS VISIT TO THE GREAT NORTHERN HOTEL IN LONDON
LOCATION is key to a lot of things. Your home, a holiday and certainly a hotel. The Great Northern Hotel is slap bang next to one of the main hubs of London – King’s Cross train station – and is ideally placed to spend some time in the capital.
The hotel opened in 1854 and was renovated to a beautiful standard in 2013. The stunning curved Victorian building leaves a bold stamp on the busy landscape and is impossible to miss.
If you step into the grand GNH bar, which backs directly into King’s Cross Station, guests and travellers alike can easily pretend they are walking in the shoes of the elite and wealthy globetrotters of days gone by. It’s a stunning room, with huge crystal chandeliers, marble, pewter and mirrored ceilings.
Back in the main part of the hotel, 90 rooms on six floors have been restored and re-designed with high ceilings and curved corridors creating a great sense of light and space. In the stylish reception area, welcoming staff ensured a timely check-in.
We had two rooms booked for all the family. A Couchette room is styled on a classic railway sleeper but with a luxurious twist. It’s cosy and has plenty of light and is very comfortable.
In the other room, the Cubitt, there’s bespoke leather and walnut furniture, a king-size bed, and a vintage-style Lefroy-Brooks bathroom.
On the way to the room, we noticed at the end of our corridor a complimentary pantry, which gives guests a touch of home comforts in their exquisite surroundings. Situated at the end of each floor, the kitchens offer homemade cakes, sweets, fresh milk and a good selection of tea and coffee – again balancing old-fashioned charm with modern essentials. A really nice touch which I’ve never seen before in a hotel.
After settling in, top of the list for a visit was the Natural History Museum – home to more than 350 scientists and a collection of 80 million specimens from the natural world.
One of its current exhibitions, Life in the
Dark, explores the world of nocturnal animals where you can discover how they find their way around, hunt, mate and evade predators. You can venture into the bat cave and also take a deep breath and immerse yourself in the beauty of the underwater bioluminescent display.
You’ll wander round in awe, mouth open. It’s well worth a visit and you could easily spend all day here.
As we were in the area, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum just down the road. It’s one of the world’s leading museums of art and design, housing a permanent collection of more than 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity.
We saw the Frida Kahlo exhibition which presented a collection of the Mexican artist’s personal artifacts and clothing, which was fascinating, and we caught The Future Starts Here exhibition, which brings together more than 100 objects and examines where our world is heading in the future.
Keeping to a busy schedule, we took the tube to Leicester Square and grabbed something to eat.
As you would expect, there’s loads of choice in the area. We opted for MOD pizza on Irving Street before heading off to see the musical Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theatre.
Written by Baz Luhrmann – of Moulin Rouge!, Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby – as a stage play which he then made into a film in 1992, the musical, inspired by the now classic film, tells the story of Scott, a competitive ballroom dancer in Eighties Australia who makes up his own moves and finds himself aggravating ballroom purists.
He follows his heart to not only find his true calling in dance, but to also find his true love.
The show is brilliant. Funny and energetic, the cast were all fantastic dancers and singers and you could see they were really giving their all.
While the West End has plenty to pick from, show-wise, you won’t go wrong with this one. It’s on until October 27.
The following morning we had a tasty breakfast, served until a civilised 11am at the weekend. We both went for a full English and you won’t be disappointed.
On the subject of eating, later in the day we enjoyed a fabulous meal at the hotel’s Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant. It serves simple classics, cooked by acclaimed chef Mark Sargeant.
From slow roast shoulder of spring lamb, Jersey royals and spring vegetables to Westcombe ricotta and spinach cannelloni, the food is top class, and was a fitting way to end a fabulous weekend in the capital.
The exterior of the Great Northern Hotel, next to Kings Cross
Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant
The GNH Bar